The secret sauce for how you can have it all: More security and efficiency

This blog highlights our recent webinar: The Secret Sauce: You can have it all... more security AND efficiency. The discussion revolves around the importance of digital identity in healthcare, the role of technology in security and efficiency, and the impact of these factors on healthcare workflows.

A typical healthcare organization contracts with over 1,300 third parties to provide state-of-the-art technology for patients and support key staff workflows. The IT landscape has become increasingly complicated, with users working in a variety of physical locations needing access to numerous applications. Making sure the right people can access the right resources is key to supporting healthcare security standards.

So how does a healthcare organization that needs to use technology every day also maintain corporate security standards and support effective workflows? With digital identity.

The power of AI and digital transformation

AI and digital transformation have the potential to revolutionize healthcare, yet both must be approached with caution. While the consumer world has been quick to adopt AI and digital technology, healthcare has moved at a slower pace due to security, compliance, and privacy concerns. Yes, technology can help streamline healthcare processes. But it's important to ensure that technologies are implemented in a way that doesn’t compromise security and privacy – particularly as the healthcare sector protects highly valuable patient data.

In a healthcare organization, the sensitive nature of protected health information (PHI) is also combined with complex workflows. One medical staff member can be in multiple roles on multiple machines in just one day. Fast user-switching and shared workstations aren’t naturally compatible with security reloads and personal preference changes. Consequently, not all privacy and security technologies are suitable for the healthcare environment.

Furthermore, if technology becomes a barrier to workflows, medical staff can’t provide the proper care to patients, which can sometimes be life-threatening. As one of the authors shared in a recent webinar, “There is an increased need for technology in our work environments in healthcare... but because of the security, regulatory, and compliance concerns, it’s actually a lot harder to deliver that, and sometimes there’s a mismatch between what we want to do and what we can actually achieve.”

Digital Identity is key to enhancing security and efficiency

Good technology can be leveraged in the healthcare setting through the power of digital identity. A solution that offers security, privacy, and compliance capabilities – while also bringing users efficiency, productivity, and usability – is the secret sauce for healthcare. Purpose-built solutions running behind the scenes can learn the digital identities of users and workflows in the healthcare space. Then, when a user needs to access an EHR or other healthcare platform, they can quickly tap their badge, or utilize facial ID or other biometrics, to securely and quickly log in.

Digital identity allows for better security and ease of use. When the right elements combine with an understanding of digital identities and clinical workflows in healthcare, both security and efficiency are delivered. Digital identity solutions secure data by ensuring every workstation and endpoint across the organization has a locked front door that can only be unlocked through proper identification. Even better, unlocking that door is easy and fast for authorized users, so security never disrupts patient care.

Securing provisioning and de-provisioning

In the healthcare environment, various clinicians, including daily medical staff, researchers, student clinicians, and travel nurses, need multiple logins to perform their jobs. It’s therefore crucial to enable proper provisioning and deprovisioning.

Different roles require different kinds of access, and some clinicians might play multiple roles in their daily work. While it’s important that every clinician be appropriately provisioned to do their job, it is equally important they’re only given as much access as they need and no more. For example, not everyone within the healthcare organization needs access to the EHR and the sensitive data it contains. A solution that can help assign privileges according to the needs of each role helps ensure appropriate access is provisioned from day one.

When it comes to security, de-provisioning can be even more important than provisioning. Once a person is given access to the various systems they need for daily work, they essentially have the keys to the castle. Billing systems and EHRs contain highly sensitive information that's necessary for daily workflows within a healthcare organization. However, a staff member retaining privileged access after leaving the organization puts that data at risk.

Healthcare onboarding systems should be as automated as possible and as fast as possible, to ensure secure access to vital information. And in turn, offboarding systems should be able to automatically de-provision to prevent unauthorized access.

Control, enable, and monitor

The three core aspects of any digital identity strategy are controlling user access, quickly and efficiently providing users with necessary access, and monitoring user activity. Patient privacy monitoring lets healthcare organizations monitor user access, to help catch anything suspicious from a compliance standpoint. A suspicious access being a patient record access that does not have a treatment, payment or operational reason, including instances such as co-worker snooping or VIP patient access.

This is a critical piece to the puzzle, as there are millions of patient record accesses a day, making it impossible for compliance to keep up. Without a proper monitoring system, healthcare organizations can potentially miss inappropriate patient record access, a violation of HIPAA that can cost anywhere from $100 to $50,000 per record. Not including the reputational damage, legal fees, and potential criminal penalties.

Monitoring is not only needed for safety reasons, but also to gather information on efficiencies. If multiple clinicians from one department are accessing data they aren’t provisioned to access, it could be a sign that this access is needed for workflows, and provisions should be adjusted accordingly.

Where to start?

Kicking off your digital identity strategy starts with assessing clinical and operational workflows to determine what problems need to be addressed. Then you can determine how technology could play a role in solving these problems to amplify the value of workflows.

In a healthcare setting, ease of use is key for technology adoption, which enables clinicians to do their jobs appropriately. But at the same time, we need to remember that security is also vital. Digital identity technology that provides access, control, and insight into user activity lets clinicians focus on patients while still meeting the high security standards needed to safeguard patient data.

Clinician burnout is a real problem, and a major contributing factor is ineffective technology that causes clinicians to fight against the systems they need to provide care. Conversely, technology that clinicians can use with ease and efficiency relieves frustrations and conserves energy so they can focus on patient care.

Learn more about what digital identity solutions can do for your organization by checking out our webinar, The Secret Sauce: You can have it all ... more security AND efficiency.